If you are injured in a Florida accident, here are the three risks of taking your matter to trial. The legal system aspires to produce certain and repeatable results. If you have two Florida personal injury matters with similar facts, say a rear-end car crash, resulting in a shoulder surgery, and arguably they should reach similar results.
In reality, trial practice is not predictable. If you sit down with any Florida personal injury lawyer, she will tell you that she lost cases that she should have won, and won cases that she should have lost. You will also hear that there are no slam dunk cases. The reason for this is human element. Every human being has biases. This includes the judge, witnesses and jurors. One bad ruling, one juror that looks outside the facts presented in trial or one tiny fact that is taken out of context can change the entire case.
So here we are, you’ve injured your shoulder in a car crash and had to undergo repair of your rotator cuff. You ask a friend for a referral to a lawyer. You look the lawyer up and do more research. You finally hire a lawyer that you believe will help you. Your case is progressing, and the darn insurance company doesn’t even offer you your medical bills. You feel deflated even though your lawyer warned you about this particular insurance company. Because of the insurance company’s ridiculous offer, you have no choice but to go to trial.
On the other hand, the insurance company gives you a good, not an excellent offer. You are pissed off because someone told you about his friend that received a lot more money and wasn’t half as injured as you – you want to go to trial.
Three Risks of a Florida Personal Injury Trial
You and your lawyer try the best case possible, and the jury comes back with a verdict for the defense. This means you get zipped. Nothing. The message is that there are no guarantees and even with the strongest case you can lose. We do not know what goes on in the jury room. Sometimes there is a bully, who commanders the jury, and gets his/her way because the other folks do not stand up for what they believe.
I was just speaking with a lawyer who tried a bicycle injury case. The injured person was an A+ client. The facts suggested that the defendant was at fault. All the witnesses held up and all the supporting evidence was admitted. The jury came back with a defense verdict. No explanation. No nothing.
The ultimate goal of any Florida personal injury attorney is to get more money in their client’s pocket than was offered before trial. Sometimes it is important to look at the costs associated with trying a case and the potential outcome. For instance, you may have a pre-suit offer to settle the case at $50,000. You want to try your case and you get a verdict of $70,000, however, this additional money is used up by the expenses associated with trial and you end up with less money in your pocket.
You May Have To Pay The Other Party’s Attorney’s Fees & Costs
Florida has a procedure called a Proposal for Settlement or Offer of Judgment. This is called the pay to play rule. When you’re dealing with insurance companies, they have the ability to assume the risk where individuals do not. Let’s use round numbers to explain the concept. Say, the insurance company serves you with a proposal for settlement in the amount of $100,000 – you reject the proposal because you believe your case is worth more money. If you go to trial, you have to get a net verdict of $75,000 or higher to beat the proposal. If the net verdict is $70,000, you will be responsible or the other sides attorney’s fees and costs, which could be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
How do you handle this?
You must have constant communication with your lawyer about the probability of success in your matter. Your lawyer, not your friends, family or coworkers, is the best source of information regarding your risks and benefits of going to trial. Why, because your lawyer has been there. She knows the judge, the jurisdiction, the law and the evidence in your case.
Some cases are no brainers and they have to be tried. For instance, if you or a family member has been severely injured but the defendant does not believe they were at fault for accident, the only way to get fair value is to have a jury determine responsibility. In other cases, a settlement or mediation may be your best bet.
I share this information with you because knowledge is power and you need to go into trial with your eyes wide open.